Planning for Peak Performance


We are fascinated by our sporting heroes and they are a great inspiration because they show us how harness the power of focus, resilience and enthusiasm. They know precisely what their goals are, what their current capability is and what they need to do to close the gap.
Whether you were lucky enough to get tickets or will just enjoy it on the TV, the London Olympics is surely a chance to see fantastic athletes aiming to be at their very best. Their Olympic performance will be the result of long planning. As it is said: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Isn’t this exactly what we need in our customer contact operations? And especially in vital support teams, like planning, analysis and quality? Peak performance is about what we do day in day out – so that we ‘see the wood for the trees’ and
‘focus our limited resource where it counts’ as two people put it in their contribution to the Benchmark Research this year.
So when do we need to be at our ‘peak’ in terms of performance? Is it when demand is at its height – our busy hours, days, weeks or months? Is it when we have an unexpected surge in demand? Is it about making sure that our people – and we ourselves – are performing at our best day in day out? 
Winners are those who have the fitness and reserves of energy to be as fresh for the sprint finish, or in extra time, as they are at the outset. How do we build that contingency reserve into our operating models? How do we approach our schedules, our targets, our standards and our job design to create an operating environment that gets the most from our people and sustains real passion and customer focus? 
We know that sporting heroes depend on a great backup team in preparing for success. In the same way, support teams in the customer contact operation need to understand their role in supporting front line teams. Managers need to become aware of their contribution in supporting their people.
Beyond all else however, sporting success comes from a personal, passionate commitment to a clear and appropriate goal. In the same way we each live our dreams – no-one can do it for us. Targets may help in giving focus, but we and our people need to make them our own. We need ownership of our own development. If we are too busy to manage this for ourselves, who really can we expect to do it for us?
Many times, in responses in our 2012 research, people point to the need to be open-minded – personally and as an organisation. We need to overcome the attitudes that we so often let stop us from living our dreams: ‘we’ve never done it like that’ ‘it can’t be done’ ‘I don’t have time’ ‘ no-one will support me’.
This year we have invited Mike Finnigan, performance coach, to our annual conference to help us learn from sporting heroes – to harness for ourselves the power of focus, resilience and enthusiasm. Whether we are looking to get the best from ourselves or the best from our colleagues, surely we – each of us – need to be clear about our goals, about our current
capabilities and to create a plan that closes the gap, so that we perform at our peak when it really counts.
Paul Smedley is Founder & Chair of the Professional Planning Forum. He can be contacted on 020 8993 1129 or
Click here to order your copy of the 2012 Best Practice Guide
Take a look at these articles, videos and links
2012 Benchmark Research
Back office efficiency – the planning cycle
Five killer applications for Speech Analytics
Focus on workforce management systems
Forecasting - moving beyond averages
Gaining significant performance improvement
Professional accreditation for individuals and teams
Professional development using the skills assessment framework
Real-time & tactical planning
Strategic trends in planning customer contact
The operational performance community
The power of planning and collaborative support
The quality & customer experience community
Top ten tips from the 2012 Innovation Awards
What does 'good' look like? The MI Maturity Model - 2012 Best Practice Guide article
What makes a great planning team?
Why flexibility is more than scheduling
Why security for personal card information is vital in cutting fraud


(c) Professional Planning Forum 2000-2018
This site uses cookies to help deliver an engaging user experience.
To learn more about what cookies are and how to manage them visit